We may earn a commission for products purchased through links in this article - learn more

Sage Barista Express Review 2024

Coffee Perfection at Home – Espresso, Cappuccino, Latte ...

sage barista express with portafilter beans and milk jug

The Verdict

The Sage Barista Express is a step above most home espresso machines. The perfect espresso, cappuccino or latte is made easy with control over every detail. Complete with a grinder, hopper & milk frother – the grind size, coffee dosing, espresso volume, and temperature can all be tweaked to achieve coffee perfection. However, what’s impressive is that while you can tweak everything, the Sage Barista Express is super easy to use. 


PROS
  • Wonderful Coffee
  • A Pleasure to Use
  • Custom Settings
  • Consistent Quality
CONS
  • More Effort than a Pod Machine

A few quid more than your average home machine, but in terms of the coffee, the Barista Express compares admirably to espresso machines costing considerably more. Clever design, custom settings and precision automation make crafting the perfect cup of coffee reliably good.

Starting with the conical burr grinder, you have the freedom to adjust the grind size and then the coffee dose. This means the stainless steel portafilter is consistently filled to the optimal level. Following grinding and tamping, the simple razor-trimming tool fine-tunes the dose.

Sage barista express empty portafilter
STAINLESS STEEL PORTAFILTER

Once the portafilter is loaded, it firmly locks into place. Then with a simple button press, the Barista Express delivers water at the precise volume, pressure, and temperature for an impeccable extraction, resulting in a rich crema-topped espresso. Furthermore, the machine boasts a hot water dispenser and steam wand, facilitating the heating and texturing of milk to create cappuccinos, macchiatos, and lattes.

Measuring 40cm in width and slightly less in height and depth, the Barista Express is sturdily built and of exceptional quality. Equipped with a 2-litre water tank and a 450g bean hopper, it offers ample capacity for extended use. While regular cleaning and descaling are necessary maintenance tasks, the overall package of the Sage Barista Express leaves little to be desired.

The Detail

The Sage Barista Express offers a variety of features to help you achieve the ideal espresso shot. Here’s what you get & how it works…

Integrated Grinder: The Barista Express features a built-in conical burr grinder with adjustable settings from coarse to fine. This allows users to grind beans to their desired consistency, impacting water flow and pressure during extraction. (more on this later)

Dose Control: You can adjust the amount of ground coffee dispensed from the grinder. Consistency is easy, as you can save & repeat the perfect settings.

Tamper: The tamp evenly compacts the coffee grounds to create resistance to the water. In turn, the water then saturates the coffee grounds to extract all the flavour. The tamper conveniently stores in a magnetic slot. 

Razor: This clever tool helps get the portafilter level just right.

Sage Barista Express control panel showing correct espresso range on the pressure gauge
THE GAUGE SHOWS PERFECT PRESSURE WITH CORRECT GRIND SIZE, DOSE & TAMP

Pressure Gauge: The importance of this central dial cannot be overstated! It indicates the pressure exerted during extraction and is ultimately a measure of whether you’ve got the grind, dose & tamp right for espresso perfection.

Steam Wand: Milk frothing and (should you desire) latte art is made easy with the integrated milk wand. This is much better than the integrated milk unit on many espresso machines, which require major cleaning after every use. 

Hot Water Dispenser: The ‘on tap’ hot water is good for Americanos, quick cup warming or even a cup of herbal tea!

Sage Barista Express 4 filter baskets - two with dual wall
FOUR PORTAFILTER BASKETS

Portafilter Baskets: The Barista Express comes with four portafilter baskets. Two dual wall cups for pre-ground coffee (single & double shots) plus two single wall cups for custom grinds. 

Programmable Settings: You can customise and save preferred settings for temperature and brewing time, again making consistent results easy.

Inside the Sage Barista Express

Take a look inside the Barista Express and you’ll find a network of pipes and circuitry. The pump sits centrally at the base of the machine. Above this, is the thermocoil boiler. This allows precise temperature control, and importantly heats the water quickly – there’s no hanging around! 

PID temperature control delivers water at exactly 93°C for perfectly balanced flavours. Getting techy, PID stands for Proportional, Integral and Derivative. Essentially, the power is controlled to deliver consistent output temperature for the perfect brew – a few degrees can make a big difference.

Also of note are a couple of solenoid valves. As with all coffee machines, cleaning AND descaling are very important. Clean & descale your machine regularly – it’ll then work like new, for years to come. However, as with all coffee machines, if you don’t do this the labyrinth of pipes will block and the solenoids will fail and need to be replaced.

The Sage is well-built. And importantly you can buy spares easily without breaking the bank. While many manufacturers design machines to be dumped after a couple of years the Barista Express can be maintained and repaired. My machine at home is nearly ten years old and works as new.

Cleaning & Descaling

The instruction manual is clear & concise on how to keep your machine spick & span. Usefully, a ‘clean me’ light illuminates when the cleaning cycle is required. If you live in a hard water area, I’d recommend you descale your machine at the same time. Once limescale builds up, it’s nearly impossible to shift. It’s also, quick & easy to clean the grinder, steam wand and drip tray. Again, the instructions that come with the machine are pretty good.

Specification

THE DETAIL

  • 54mm Stainless Steel Portafilter
  • Dosing Funnel Attachment
  • Razor Dose Trimming Tool
  • 1 cup & 2cup Single & Dual Wall Filter Baskets (4)
  • Integrated, Magnetic Tamper
  • Stainless Steel Milk Jug
  • Cleaning disc and tablets
  • Cleaning brush, tool and Allen Key
  • Water Filter Holder and Water Filter

THE TECHNOLOGY

  • Steel conical burrs
  • 16 precision grind settings
  • Pressure gauge for Precise Extraction Feedback
  • 15 bar Pump
  • Thermocoil heating system for quick heat-up
  • PID Temperature Control

THE NUMBERS

  • Bean Hopper Capacity – 250 grams
  • Water Tank Capacity – 2 Ltr
  • Size: 318 x 351 x 404 mm
  • Warranty: 2-Year Repair, Replace or Refund Guarantee

What About the Beans?

Choose beans that have been roasted in the last couple of weeks. All the flavour comes from the oil released during the roasting process. This goodness evaporates over time. Good coffee companies shout about the freshness and associated roast dates. They don’t sell old roasts.

To be clear, avoid supermarket beans. Due to scale, these are usually mass-roasted months before they arrive in the shops – the ‘best before date’ is meaningless. Only buy beans with a recent ‘roasted on…’ date.

The Alternatives

Spending a few quid more gets you the Barista Express Impress. For the money, it tamps the grind automatically. Then another step up in price comes the Barista Touch & Barista Pro. Both are good machines, but you’re paying £££s for a digital screen and fancy controls. We’re not convinced they’re worth the extra money.

There’s lots to like about the Sage Bambino – especially the price. It’s around half that of the Barista Express. Plus the footprint is tiny, so it’ll happily fit on your worktop. The main difference is there’s no grinder. And to be clear, to enjoy great coffee at home, you need a conical burr grinder. Forget standard grinders. These offer little control over the grounds and tend to burn the coffee, eliminating the flavour. If you’re planning to buy a separate grinder and the Bambino – all good. But personally, I’d miss the pressure gauge.

Sage Bambino
Paired with a decent grinder, this model is worthy and affordable alternative to the recommended Barista Express

The Sage Oracle is superb. However, it’s expensive. Really expensive. This is a coffee shop machine for the home. The main difference is the dual boiler, meaning you can heat milk & make coffee simultaneously. This may sound like an extravagance, but if you’re tasked with making all the family & friends coffee, it comes into its own. If funds allowed, the Sage Oracle would sit on my worktop!

BUY TODAY & SAVE £500
Sage The Oracle
Blow the budget, awesome coffee machine with dual boiler. We love everything about this model except the price!
BUY TODAY & SAVE £80
Sage Barista Express
The perfect espresso, cappuccino or latte is made easy with control over every detail.

The Bottom Line

WARNING: The Sage Barista Express may turn you into a coffee snob. Trips to the coffee shop will generally disappoint. This machine makes the perfect espresso, cappuccino, or latte quickly & reliably. The grinder and milk frother are top-notch. And it’s easy to tweak (& save) your settings. You can play around with grind size, quantity, pressure and temperature until you find your coffee sweet spot. Best part? Despite all its fancy features, the Sage Barista Express is super easy to use.

Thinking about it, buy one cup of coffee every day from Starbucks or alike and you’ll blow over a grand in a year. The alternative is getting the Barista Express. In year one, you’ll pay for the machine & save a small fortune!

Why you can trust Verum

I bought this Sage machine nearly 10 years ago and use it daily. Beyond my own experience, I’ve cross-referenced user reviews, consulted with experts and compared every detail to numerous coffee machines.

Unlike most other review websites, Verum doesn’t accept any advertising or free products – our verdicts are truly independent. 


S H A R E

Scroll to Top